Let me preface this article by first clarifying that the type of social media campaigns I'm going to talk about are social content promotion on social news sites. This includes the act of creating content (or linkbait) and using social news sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Fark, Reddit, etc. to give it maximum visibility in order to drive large amounts of traffic to the content, and in turn, receive many links from others for it.
I've found companies often give a lot of push-back to pursuing a social media campaign primarily due to a lack of education on how the process works and what the ROI (Return On Investment) is. The reality is, when used as a long-term strategy, a social media campaign is very rewarding both in traffic numbers, branding, and links. Below are some common questions, primarily from clients, that target specifics in social media campaigns.
With link building being such a laborious and daunting task, what better way to get high quality links than to create content people love so much they choose to naturally link to it?
Some common questions regarding links are:
- Who links to the content that is created? When the content is exposed on social news sites anyone could be viewing them at any given time. Those people include journalists looking for ideas to write about, bloggers who have related blogs that want to feature that content or write a unique spin to it, or any other publisher that has a content site that feels your content is noteworthy enough to talk about and link to.
- Are the links built permanent? The links are indeed permanent. When someone links to you rarely do they change or delete that link. This is quite different than the paid link industry where a link will disappear if you stop paying for it. When people buy links of such caliber they pay anywhere from $50 to $300 a month for them.
- Are the links built quality? The links you'll get will range in quality. This is a good thing to ensure a natural link profile is built on your site. If the content is good enough, you will get some great links that you could never get otherwise from high profile news sites. This really just depends on who decides to link to you and there's not much control over that.
- How do I funnel the link equity where I want it? Using internal/external links within the content can give the content you're linking to a large boost from your linkbait. If you want to play in the gray area, 301 redirects are another method for passing link equity.
Social media traffic is notorious for having a high bounce rate and a low visit time. This is due to the interest being solely focused on the content featured on the social news sites and not much else.
Some common questions regarding traffic are:
- Will the traffic convert on my site? The traffic from social media sites likely will not take any form of action on your site aside from commenting at times. Very rarely do the users explore the site further, their attention is short-lived and they primarily just want to check out the content and leave.
- If the traffic doesn't stay long then why do I want it? Those same social media users are the people who further share your content and link to it. Be grateful for them but don't count on them to buy any of your products or give you their contact information for a lead. If you have CPM ads then the more visitors you have the better.
On the bright side, once you do receive links the traffic coming from those links has different behavior than the initial influx of social media traffic. These visitors came to your site because they were interested in it, from the link, and will further explore the site, bookmark, sign up for feeds/newsletters, etc. These people become repeat visitors.
Often times larger brands, with a name built for themselves already, want the traffic and links but don't necessarily want to tie their name to any content promotion in fear that the content or commentary about their efforts might negatively harm the brand.
Some common questions regarding branding are:
- How can we launch a social media campaign without our brand being the main focus? Commercial intent is often sniffed out and frowned upon by social media users. That's' why it's recommended that some companies launch linkbait on a microsite. The microsite can be designed to be informative or just a specific destination for a marketing campaign without tying the brand's agenda to it.
- How can we benefit if we're doing everything on another site? For links, once again, 301 redirects or external links can pass link equity over. You will miss out on the traffic but you can tie your brand to the microsite. Just look at how Burger King launches their social media campaigns on microsites.
- If we allow people to comment won't this just make us vulnerable to exposing negative feedback? The conversation is already out there. Might as well let it happen in a place where you can steer and combat it.
- Are other companies doing this too? You bet. Companies ranging from small ma and pa commerce sites to large corporate entities are all benefiting from social media campaigns now. As competitors see the success their competition is having, they want in on the action as well.
The End Result
While I've encountered many initial skeptics with social media campaigns I've seen them become quickly addicted to the results. One thing to remember is that not every piece of social content or linkbait will always be successful. The homeruns are what evens out the field. You can expect anywhere from 250-5,000 links and 2,500 to 250,000 visitors from a successful homerun. Consider making social content promotion a part of your social media strategy.